Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz approved changes to the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act
By Diego Flammini
A recently amended bill will protect Minnesota farmers for the rest of the year as producers navigate challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Governor Tim Walz passed changes to the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act to protect farmers from foreclosures.
Governor Rudy Perpich passed the original law in 1986 in response to a state farm crisis that caused net farm income to fall by almost 60 per cent during the 1980s.
The legislation outlined that any creditor foreclosing on ag debt of US$15,000 or more must provide the debtor with a legal notice of their right to a neutral mediator and provide 90 days for the parties to reach an agreement.
The amendments Gov. Walz approved earlier this week extend the mediation period by 150 days or until Dec. 1, whichever is later.
The changes apply to producers currently in mediation and those who apply for mediation before Aug. 31, 2020.
Last year, 30 Minnesota farmers filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy to restructure finances and avoid foreclosures.
And as producers try to manage the challenges related to COVID-19, providing them with more time for mediation is an important support, said Rep. Todd Lippert, the bill’s sponsor.
“Everything in agriculture has been thrown up in the air and nothing has landed yet,” he said in the state legislature on May 13. “We want to provide time for farmers to plant and harvest, time for livestock markets to stabilize, for milk prices to stabilize and for federal support for farmers to become clearer.
“We don’t want farmers and lenders to be rushed into farm-ending decisions in such a volatile ag marketplace.”
Farms.com has reached out to members of the Minnesota ag community for comment.